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Copyright Ownership of Posts
by Ashiro
08 May 2006 15:26

I was just wondering what the copyright status of posts on a message board are?

Do they belong to the site owner or the poster?

The reason I ask is I inherited an entire community that was kicked out of its board after the admin threw a mard. The oppurtunity recently came about for me to get one of the threads from the old board and I could post it - for nostalgia and reminiscing purposes.

If I was to get permission from the original posters could I repost them or does the site owner control the copyright?

Paul M 08 May 2006 15:31

I think it depends on what you agreed to when you joined. Many sites T&C's include a section saying you transfer ownership of the post contents to the site.

Ghostsuit 08 May 2006 15:43

As paul says it's really all down to the T&C that people agree to when they join the forum.

Ashiro 08 May 2006 15:48

I'm 99% sure that the default disclaimer/agreement was used and so the copyright would lie with the poster.

As most of the posters are still around all I need to do is get permission of them individually to report them.

Many thanks everyone.

phill2003 08 May 2006 16:35

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul M
I think it depends on what you agreed to when you joined. Many sites T&C's include a section saying you transfer ownership of the post contents to the site.


I bet they dont, if they do that and take resposibility for things posted they leave themselves open to law suits..........

Mine says although the copyright remains with the poster the mere act of posting it grants me certain rights with it the main one being i can keep/edit or delete it as i see fit but i do not have copyright.........

Asi9ine 08 May 2006 20:18

Ashiro, your board looks promising. Hope you don't mind, but can I ask you where you got the Wiki program from? I found a script before, but it included all content, not just the content my forum would provide. I run a field-specific forum, so I would like to know if that's possible.

And I believe all content to be the sole property of the owner. They thought up the message, they posted it. If it is not a message worthy of being part of the discussion, that does not lie with the owners of the forum. That lies squarely with the idiot who posted it. If you point this out in your Rules, you will be able to quote them when needed.

Freesteyelz 09 May 2006 00:42

Interesting subject. :)

Paul M 09 May 2006 01:11

Quote:

Originally Posted by phill2003
I bet they dont, if they do that and take resposibility for things posted they leave themselves open to law suits..........

Not everyone is based in "sue em all" America ;)

Tony G 09 May 2006 02:09

This isn't more of a copyright issue but a contracual one..

If you had something like that in your T&C, yes those posts are yours but it does not mean by a long shot that they are copyrighted. You'd have to take further steps than that. The only legal right you have is that if those posts are used elsewhere without your permission, then you'd be able to sue for breach of contract. So don't get the two mixed up. ;) There are different processes for both and definitely a lot of ways out being binded by a contract. But the way vBulletin do it - it would work in the legal world.

(Don't hold my word on this though, but I think I've got it right)

Freesteyelz 09 May 2006 02:19

As a joke on my forum for years in my signature I had certain phrases that ended with . Of course it didn't hold water.

phill2003 09 May 2006 18:54

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tony G
This isn't more of a copyright issue but a contracual one..

If you had something like that in your T&C, yes those posts are yours but it does not mean by a long shot that they are copyrighted. You'd have to take further steps than that. The only legal right you have is that if those posts are used elsewhere without your permission, then you'd be able to sue for breach of contract. So don't get the two mixed up. ;) There are different processes for both and definitely a lot of ways out being binded by a contract. But the way vBulletin do it - it would work in the legal world.

(Don't hold my word on this though, but I think I've got it right)


The thing i would be more worried about is someone putting something on my site with claiming ownership and then getting into a court case because of it and and the content, This has happened in more countrys than just america as well.

I prefer just to let the people who post keep ownership of the content but for as long as i want it i can keep it.

Tony G 10 May 2006 09:42

Quote:

Originally Posted by phill2003
The thing i would be more worried about is someone putting something on my site with claiming ownership and then getting into a court case because of it and and the content, This has happened in more countrys than just america as well.

I prefer just to let the people who post keep ownership of the content but for as long as i want it i can keep it.

The only person who can take them to court is you. In a contract, the two parties are the only one who can sue.

I don't know where you get this info about other counties doing it.. but they have different contract law so. But one things for sure - there's no copyright on the posts.

Erwin 10 May 2006 23:46

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul M
I think it depends on what you agreed to when you joined. Many sites T&C's include a section saying you transfer ownership of the post contents to the site.

But do you or your site really want to be responsible for what another person says? :)

Freesteyelz 11 May 2006 03:20

It doesn't matter in the court of law, actually. The site owner can be held accountable for the information that's on their site regardless of any clause or agreement.

Erwin 11 May 2006 12:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by Freesteyelz
It doesn't matter in the court of law, actually. The site owner can be held accountable for the information that's on their site regardless of any clause or agreement.

The current law in most Western countries seem to be that the more control you have over the posts (i.e. moderation) the higher your responsibility for the content of the posts. However, this is obviously a separate issue to ownership of copyright. :)

Chris M 11 May 2006 13:32

But on top of that, it has to be proven in cases where the posts contain illegal content that the moderation/administration staff have seen and ignored it and are therefore allowing such content to remain on their site, or have simply not gotten around to reviewing that content :)

Now I know I'm not a lawyer but "Innocent until proven Guilty" is still a case in the modern day court of law, and therefore if you can prove (which is now easier with database marking in 3.5) that you haven't read that thread at the time of it being reported, then you can be excused from any responsibility :)

Chris

Tony G 11 May 2006 14:00

Well, yeah that sounds right. You'd need to have malicious intent. I don't know.. maybe an owner is responsible for all content on their site regardless?

Chris M 11 May 2006 14:13

With careful wording and disclaimers and terms and conditions written well that people have to agree to when signing up, you can absolve yourself of total responsibility :)

Chris

Royalridge 11 May 2006 14:45

Having looked at this recently from an Irish angle it's a very grey area. It can be argued that a forum is a database and Irish copyright law states that the first rights of authorship in a database lie with the person who is compiling the database or has commissioned the database to be compiled.

There's actually a whole section of the law that specifically deals with this.

http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2000_28.html

Look for Part V Databases

Erwin 11 May 2006 22:49

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris M
With careful wording and disclaimers and terms and conditions written well that people have to agree to when signing up, you can absolve yourself of total responsibility :)

Chris

That's not entirely accurate. :) Disclaimers can never absolve completely the duties and responsibilities under common law.

Freesteyelz 11 May 2006 23:20

Quote:

Originally Posted by Erwin
The current law in most Western countries seem to be that the more control you have over the posts (i.e. moderation) the higher your responsibility for the content of the posts. However, this is obviously a separate issue to ownership of copyright. :)

I think the conversation had changed course unless I had misinterpreted what you replied to Paul M. It still applied, nevertheless. :)

Chris M 12 May 2006 01:16

Quote:

Originally Posted by Erwin
That's not entirely accurate. :) Disclaimers can never absolve completely the duties and responsibilities under common law.

By that, I meant you cannot be held totally responsible, only partially at worst ;)

Chris

Tony G 13 May 2006 07:30

If they were to list everything they could be exempt from it would take pages and pages. But with most contracts of this form, they would definitely exempt themselves from things like negligence and basically anythig that would see them paying damages or specific performance if breach occurs. Some things wont have relevance to a certain contract so they wont be listed and so on. There are some dirty clauses people use, you can exempt yourself from basically anything thats listed if the other party agrees/signs it, regardless if it is unfair.

It's actually worth working on your terms and conditions if you're a big board then, so people dont call their lawyers on you. ;)


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